At Monday’s Planning & Zoning meeting, the board unanimously recommended approval of a Drury Inn and Suites Hotel. The petitioner presented on behalf of Ms. Gaylor Patel, the owner of the property, for a 36 foot height variance for the hotel which would be located at I-95 and Hwy 80 at the current Econo Lodge location. This would be a 8 story, 187 room upscale hotel. I was impressed with the construction materials, elegance and most of all the willingness of the presenter to possibly move the placement of the hotel either closer to Hwy 80 or push it back farther on the property. Most petitioners are not willing to even discuss those possibilities.
I did go on record to express my concern for the height variance as I do not believe this property meets all the requirements for a variance and it would set a dangerous precedent for the Historic Overlay District. If approved,this hotel would be the tallest building in Pooler. Will approving this 36 foot height variance set a precedent along Hwy 80 to allow for taller buildings? Absolutely!
I spoke with the petitioner in great length after the meeting and explained my concerns and asked him if he could discuss with Ms. Patel the possibility of reducing the number of stories. He said that he would. This item should be presented at next Monday’s City Council meeting. I have attached a few pictures from the presenter’s slide show which was presented at P & Z. Please keep in mind that the petitioner was just asking for a variance and not for the site plan. The petitioner just presented the slide presentation to show the board the quality of the hotel. If City Council approves the height variance, then the hotel will acquire the land from Ms. Patel and move forward with coming before P & Z and then City Council with the site plan. I appreciate the city’s plan to revitalize Hwy 80, and to replace the current Econo Lodge with a quality hotel such as a Drury Hotel would be moving in that direction. However, do we need an eight story hotel? I encourage residents to attend the City Council meeting to express your approval or disapproval of this variance.